Stunning spring flowers, quick growth, handsome bark, and colorful autumn leaves bring smiles to a gardener's face
1 of 5Photo: Van Chaplin
The Right Tree
Flowering cherries grow easily and fast and fit all sorts of spaces. And when they bloom, the show is such that you just about lose your mind.
Here are our four favorites that do great in the South and are widely available. Give them full sun and well-drained soil. Use the following profiles to select the right one for your situation.
2 of 5Photo: Art Meripol
Want a big show right away? Yoshino flowering cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) is the one to plant. The star of the spring cherry festival around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., it can grow 3 feet a year while young. It tops out at about 35 feet tall and wide.
Frothy clouds of blush pink-to-white flowers smother its leafless branches in early spring, while fall foliage may be yellow to russet. Graceful tiers of wide-spreading branches make it popular for lining residential streets. It also makes a fine lawn tree or medium-size shade tree. Try it in the Upper, Middle, and Lower South.
3 of 5Photo: Van Chaplin
High on anyone's list of graceful trees is weeping cherry. But there isn't just one weeping cherry—there are lots. Some have pink flowers; others have white. Some have single blooms; others have double. Some grow 40 feet tall; others grow 12 to 15 feet tall. Ungrafted weepers grown on their original roots appear fountain-like; those grafted atop a straight trunk of higan cherry (P. x subhirtella) offer a more formal look.
'Snow Fountains' comes both ways, so choose the one you like. Growing only 12 feet tall and wide with pure white blooms, it has pendulous branches that cascade to the ground. Leaves turn orange and golden in fall. It's good for the Upper, Middle, and Lower South.
4 of 5Photo: Van Chaplin
Spring begins whenever 'Okame' cherry (P. 'Okame') decides to bloom. In the Lower South, that could be as early as Valentine's Day.
Thousands of glorious, deep pink blossoms adorn its leafless branches. Vase-shaped in youth, 'Okame' develops into an oval or rounded tree about 20 feet tall and wide—ideal for shading a courtyard or patio. In fall, the leaves turn orange-red before dropping to reveal glossy, reddish brown bark. Very heat and cold tolerant, 'Okame' grows and blooms well as far south as Central Florida.
5 of 5Photo: Van Chaplin
When it blooms, 'Kwanzan' Japanese flowering cherry (P. serrulata 'Kwanzan') looks like it's dressed up for the prom about a thousand times over. Huge, ruffled, double, pink blossoms resembling corsages dangle beneath the branches in mid to late spring after the tree leafs out. The glossy, deep green leaves turn russet red in fall.
Growing to 30 feet tall, vase-shaped 'Kwanzan' provides plenty of headroom beneath it. This trait makes it an excellent lawn, street, or courtyard tree for the Upper, Middle, and Lower South. Plant this vigorous grower where you can gaze up into it.